Too much or not too much…??

Posted On 13 March 2016

Filed under Book Reviews
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This is a question that’s been going through my mind recently and it’s become a little more prominent because at the moment I have two books that I’m currently working my way through – and I would say that so far I’m finding them hard work.  And, yet, I still want to press on and give them a little more time to wow me.

Basically, and I would say this was probably true up until only a couple of years ago, I felt compelled to finish a book if I picked it up.  It was almost like I was determined not to be beaten, ‘I will not be beaten by this book syndrome‘ is what I’m naming it.  Nowadays, and it is fairly recent, I try to have a more balanced approach in that I’ve decided life is too short.  If I’m not enjoying the book I’m not going to finish it.  At the end of the day I wouldn’t carry on with other things in life if I wasn’t enjoying them would I?  If I go to a restaurant and order something that I don’t like the taste of – I won’t eat it.  If I start watching a series and it peters out – I won’t continue to watch it. If I start painting my walls pink only to discover that I hate pink – I won’t paint the full room pink and live with it out of foolish stubbornness, I’m sure you get the picture.  So why the strange compulsion to finish a book once I’ve started? The thing is I do love books and I’m always so hopeful when I pick one up.  When I start reading a book I would say I generally start with a really optimistic feel.  There are a few occasions where I feel a bit on thin ice – like at the end of a series, or when a book was so good that I’m almost scared to pick up the next book by the same author – because how could it possibly compete?  And possibly that author is going to get knocked off the pedestal that I’ve put them on! But, even so, mostly, I’m ever the optimist.

So, how much is too much?  At what point do you decide enough is enough?  This question is all that much harder if the book I’m reading is a review book – which I feel compelled to finish and review!  Which of course leads to other questions?  This is on a need to know basis – enquiring minds, etc, etc:

How long do you give a book before it becomes a DNF?

How long do you give a book before it reaches a point that you will finish come what may because you’ve already invested so much time?

Do you review your DNFs?

Assuming you have ‘I will not be beaten by this book syndrome’ at what point does a book become irredeemable for you? So, if you read 70%, as an example, and you’re really struggling but then the author pulls the rabbit out of the hat in the last 30% is that going to redeem it for you or is it still going to only be an average book?

I realise that nobody expects The Spanish Inquisition but even so….







30 Responses to “Too much or not too much…??”

  1. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Haha, since we just had a twitter conversation, I know exactly which book is giving you problems right now. Well, I’m not typically one to DNF – in fact, I kind of make it a point not to, but I think that’s mostly due to my OCD. And sometimes, I just want to press on because I refuse to admit defeat. And there have been a couple instances where a book has turned completely around and wowed me at the end. I’ll admit that’s rare, but it’s still so hard to turn my back on that “what if?” I really should consider DNFing when I’m just really not enjoying a book, because “life is too short” and all that, but I think the habit to finish ever book I start is simply too ingrained in me at this point.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah – that book plus another really unexpected one!
      That’s exactly what I used to be like – absolutely determined to finish and also still with the expectation that the book might wow me. Now, I tend to think that just wowing me at the end is a bit cheeky! And of course the other thing is that if I make myself finish and by the end the book didn’t redeem itself then I do tend to feel really cross with it – which definitely affects any review! I sometimes think that I should make myself finish every book thouth as as it is my reviews are a little bit unbalanced because they’re all books I like.
      Lynn 😀

      • DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

        Is “that book” Snakewood? Because that seems to be a real popular DNF at the moment, and I was a passenger on that train XD

      • @lynnsbooks

        Haha – could be 😀

  2. bormgans

    I sometimes DNF, but not a lot. I do review them, and try to explain the reasons why I DNF, I guess that might be interesting to people too. I try to at least read at least 100 pages before I even think about DNFing. What happens a bit more is that I start skimming through pages, especially when I’ve reached that 70% or so mark. When that happens I usually end up thinking I’d better straight out abandoned it, but that’s hard to do when the end is in sight.

    If a book starts with a substantial good/excellent part (like the latest de Bodard I’ve just reviewed), I will always finish it, just because it might turn around.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s the hope of a ‘turnaround’ that keeps us pressing on really. Although these days I’m more inclined to think that a book shouldn’t just redeem itself at the end!
      Lynn 😀

      • bormgans

        no indeed. not enough time. not enough money 🙂

      • @lynnsbooks

        Indeed 😀 I wish I could buy time!

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    Life is too short, indeed – and free time even shorter, if that makes any sense…
    That said, it’s rare that a book I’ve *chosen* to read ends up in the DNF category, because if I’ve picked it up it means that it did possess all the potential qualities I want in a story. There are exceptions of course, there always are… I usually know when a book might end up in the DNF “bin”: if I take a long time with the first 50 pages, that’s usually a warning sign, because I like to be… captured immediately, and not to have to work my way in, struggling up a slippery and very inclined slope.
    There are cases where the beginning looks very promising, and then everything falls apart, and even if I’m quite advanced in my own progression through the story, I feel no qualms about not finishing – and in both cases I like to detail the hows and whys of it in my review. Much of the above depends on my personal preferences of course, and that’s the reason I don’t review DNFs when they concern books submitted by their authors, since I don’t want my personal (and nitpicky, I confess) preferences to hurt the potential of a book that other readers might enjoy more than I did.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It makes perfect sense – and I love your reasoning behind not reviewing DNFs. It’s a very personal thing to all of us. I don’t review them because I figure I haven’t fully committed and it could be that the book might turn around so I should have given it the proper chance – but, like you said, life is short and free time definitely shorter and when I’m reading a book that isn’t quite ‘doing it’ for me it really slows down my reading. I usually know that I’m not enjoying my current read so much when I start playing on games instead – that’s an absolute giveaway for me.
      Lynn 😀

  4. imyril

    I used to live by ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’, and finish with a grudge just so I could leave a review. Now I’ve embraced ‘life’s too short’ and my mileage varies.

    There were enough irritants in the first 3 chapters of Red Rising for me to acknowledge that no matter how much everyone else loves this, I was only going to spit venom, so I put it down very early. I persevered through two-thirds of Alif the Unseen before I finally put it down with relief. I don’t think there’s a rule beyond my mood at the time as to how long I give a book!

    I generally don’t review or rate DNFs, although I’m thinking of changing this for books where I quit over half way through (and did review Lion’s Blood last year). I definitely won’t review DNF review copies – I’m currently trying to decide if I feel obliged to force-finish them as I’m really struggling with one.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I like your idea about reviewing books where you read over half – although I think I would feel very angry with a book that I read over half of and then still didn’t like (especially if it was a bit of a doorstopper!)
      I’m also really struggling with two review copies – well, I say that but I don’t think I’ve given either a good enough chance yet so I will press on with both for now. But neither of them gives me that joy to return to my reading. They’re both review books though so I’m in something of a quandary.
      Lynn 😀

      • imyril

        It’s never a pretty review when you give up over half way through 😉 I think the trick is not to post it immediately – I see it more as sharing some notes on why I didn’t finish (any anything that kept me going as long as I did!) than a ‘proper’ review.

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yeah, not posting immediately works for a lot of books – although I do occasionally rush in there!
        Lynn 😀

  5. Maryam (@thecurioussffreader)

    I used to force myself to finish books that I wasn’t enjoying but this year, I decided as a kind of New Year resolution to DNF books that I am not enjoying and I am very gald because, so far, it made my “reading life” a lot smoother.
    As for the “when do you DNF books?” I supposed that it is when I realize that I don’t care at all about the story, that I am bored, that I am completely confused or that the writing is awful.
    I don’t usually rview books that I DNF, I did it once for Graft by Matt Hill because I wanted to explain in details my reasons for giving up on it but I don’t usually do it.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I know – I don’t know why we feel the need to finish something if we’re bored! It’s silly really.
      Lynn 😀

  6. jenclair

    Sometimes I know within a few pages whether or not I will continue, but most of the time I’ll give it several chapters. Sometimes I even read 80% before admitting that I really don’t care what happens. I read a lot of NetGalley and physical ARCs–some are wonderful, but some fail to engage me at all, and I don’t feel bad about not finishing.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m ever the optimist – I keep on reading – sometimes I will have read 200 pages but be really struggling – then I really do have to give up!
      Lynn 😀

  7. DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

    I really like how you compared DNF to bad food and TV series – I’d never thought of it like that, and it makes more sense when you put it that way. I tend to enjoy the act of reading itself as an activity, so I almost NEVER DNF – but a couple months ago, I started working 2 jobs which means I have lost an average of 5 hours per day of potential reading time. This was when I gave me DNF and “for the love of reading” mind set a second look, and DNFed for the first in years. I do love the act of reading – but just as how I have a calories limit of food and aren’t going to waste it on yucky tasting stuff, I have a limited hours to read a day and aren’t going to spend it on a book where I have to force myself to focus on the story.

    I am now a full supporter of the DNF.

  8. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    I think I am DNFing a bit more than I used to. Otherwise I end up hate reading it. Once I “wish” I could stop reading, and I don’t the book will not fair well. I know I feel a stronger obligation to finish when it’s a review book, so I do press on in many cases. But yeah, sometimes I do wonder why.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hate not finishing review books but I hate reading them when I’m not enjoying it even more!
      Lynn 😀

  9. Redhead

    how put-down-able is the book? if it’s so putdownable that i forget to ever pick it back up, then it’s a guiltless DNF.

    I learned my lesson to try to avoid situations where I am obligated to review a book. Because what if I really don’t want to read it? what if I have major problems with it? Been there, done that, had to review it, then ended up in a face-to-face conversation with the author. wow was that ever awkward.

    but it’s not like we’re not surrounded by a hundred other, better books to try, if one or two aren’t working for us. 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ohh, awkward – I don’t want that to ever happen! I have had comments on my blog before now from authors and there was one conversation that bordered on touchy! I don’t think I’d said anything untoward particularly.
      Like you said – we’re surrounded by plenty of other books. I find it just really slows me down and in fact just makes me want to stop reading.
      Actually, one of the books that I got off to a bad start with has now picked up considerably and in fact I would say at the moment I’m quite intrigued. First impressions can be wrong I guess.
      Lynn 😀

  10. jessicabookworm

    I don’t DNF many books but I am willing to if I am really not enjoying the book. I usually know within a few chapters if I want to read something. If a book turns bad further in I will probably still finish it if I’m over half way through. I definitely agree life is too short for books you’re not enjoying!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m always so disappointed if I read half a book and still don’t like it. I don’t like to DNF I must admit but you’re much better than me at knowing within a few chapters if you like it or not – I’m useless. I usually realise I’m not enjoying something when my reading slows down so much that it almost stops.
      Lynn 😀

  11. jessreadingnook

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, mostly because I’ve had a few books that I just haven’t been feeling. I usually give a book until the 30% mark. Realistically, it shouldn’t take the author 70% of the novel to bring readers in. I should be drawn in within the first 10% (so I feel like 30% is generous).
    Sometimes I’ll DNF a book because I don’t think its good (Twilight). Sometimes I’ll DNF a book because I’m not into it at the time (and so I’ll pick it up when I am in the mood for it).

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I know what you mean. I really like not finishing a book but sometimes I find it just really puts me off reading. And, definitely mood affects the read – you do have to just agree to put a book down sometimes until you’re in the right frame of mind.
      Lynn 😀

  12. Danya @ Fine Print

    I also suffer from I will not be beaten by this book syndrome! I think I’ve only DNFed one book since I started blogging, and I remember feeling really defeated about it (which was weird because I absolutely loathed the parts of the book that I did read).

    Now I’m more willing to DNF, usually at about the 40% mark. Although that said, I almost never DNF books that I own because I’m really stubborn about getting my money’s worth. At a certain point though, your reading time definitely becomes more valuable than what you’re spending on books!

    • @lynnsbooks

      That is exactly the point and very well put ‘At a certain point though, your reading time definitely becomes more valuable than what you’re spending on books!’. That’s the thing with review books of course – you really do feel obliged!
      Lynn 😀

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